Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Crafting a Smarter, Gentler Cell Phone

On mobiles phones being aware of the user's "social context"...

"Larry Marturano doesn't want his cell phone to ring when he's sitting in church. Luckily, his phone has a built-in calendar, and he can program his phone so that it won't ring at certain times of the day. He's told it to always be respectfully silent on Sunday mornings, so it won't interrupt the sermon.

"But occasionally I'm not at church on Sunday morning," he says, "and my wife tries to get a hold of me or my son calls me, and lo and behold the cell phone doesn't ring, because I told it not to. I remember thinking 'Boy, that's really annoying, I wish it was smarter than that.' Then the next thought I had was, 'Oh yeah, that's my job.' "

Marturano is an engineer who runs a lab for Motorola near Chicago. He knows just how annoying it can be to hear a cell phone ring in a movie theater or a meeting and suddenly realize, to your horror, that it's your own phone. He and other engineers are working hard to make more polite phones -- ones that know when to be quiet and when to interrupt. The idea is that tomorrow's cell phones will be able to learn your routines and respond accordingly.

In the future, Marturano says, "as I use the phone, day after day, it learns what I like to do. It learns in what situations I answer calls. So, the vision is that over time, the cell phone gets easier to use because it only presents options to me that I'm likely to use."   continued ...   (Via NPR)

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